A Little Japan in the Bluegrass


Deep Impact | Kelsey Riley


Japanese interests always make their presence felt while acquiring American bloodstock at Keeneland, but at this week's September Yearling Sale, buyers will have a chance to get their hands on a couple of offerings with bloodlines brought back from Japan.

During Monday's smaller Book 1 session, Reiley McDonald's Eaton Sales will offer a filly by Japan's leading sire, Deep Impact (Jpn), as hip 151. She is the first yearling by the prolific son of Sunday Silence to be offered at a North American auction.

Bred in Kentucky by Coolmore-related entities, the dark bay is out of Cherokee (Storm Cat), a winner of the 2004 G3 Round Tower S. on debut at The Curragh for Aidan O'Brien. The Coolmore contingent was represented last month by Japanese-bred juvenile colt Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), who earned the 'TDN Rising Star' distinction for a first-out success at The Curragh Aug. 27.

“I think interest here in the United States for her should be extremely high,” McDonald said of hip 151. “Everybody in the world knows [Deep Impact]'s a great sire, and we just don't get that kind of opportunity here to get a filly no less by a horse like him. She's extremely nice physically and I would think anybody in the Thoroughbred racing business–from anywhere in the world–would be very interested in coming to take a look at her.”

The 1989 American Horse of the Year and champion 3-year-old Sunday Silence (Halo)'s immense impact on the breed in the land of rising sun is well documented to say the least, and McDonald believes the opportunity to tap into that potent sire line will be something buyers jump at.

“The great thing about this filly is that she's got the Halo sire line very close up in her pedigree–for any breeder in America to get to Halo that close up it has to be extremely interesting.,” he said. “She's almost the same color as her grandsire Sunday Silence–she's nearly black. She's got a very strong shoulder, huge hip and looks very fast. She seems to have quite a bit of her grandfather Storm Cat in her, as well, so she got a little bit of Sunday Silence and a little bit of Storm Cat. Again, I think American breeders–the real purists–are extremely interested in getting Halo bloodlines up close, and this gives them that opportunity in a lovely physical and Book 1 filly.”

The Deep Impact over Storm Cat cross has been a particularly potent one. Of the sire's 30 Group 1 winners, six were out of Storm Cat mares–including 2016 G1 Dubai Turf hero Reel Steel (Jpn)–with another out of a mare by Storm Cat's son Giant's Causeway.

Another whose page features some Japanese flavor is an Empire Maker filly catalogued as hip 332, a filly by Empire Maker. She's consigned by Runnymede Farm, who bred the Feb. 16 foal with longtime partner Peter Callahan. Out of a half-sister to one of Japan's other top sires–King Kamehameha (Jpn) (Kingmambo)–hip 332 was bred to Empire Maker in his final season at stud in Japan before Gainesway Farm and Don Alberto Corp. repatriated him. She was dropped in Kentucky, getting a one-year head start on Empire Maker's latest batch of U.S.-conceived foals. Hip 332's dam Hunter's Mark (Titus Livius {Fr}), the last of a broodmare band Runnymede kept in Japan, produced a Temple City colt Mar. 3 before being bred back to Fed Biz.

“We were big fans of Empire Maker when he was here, so we were looking for a good match for the mare,” said Runnymede Farm General Manager Romain Malhouitre. “As we were looking ahead, it would make sense to breed her to him and then bring her back.”

Empire Maker's appeal, of course, has been bolstered by the exploits in recent years of his sons and grandsons, which include Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and this year's GI Kentucky Derby hero Always Dreaming (Bodemeister).

“She's lovely,” Malhouitre said of hip 332. “She's got a lovely walk–she's very much an Empire Maker. She's got plenty of bone, she's quite athletic and moves well.”


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